Here’s a hodgepodge of important things I picked up from almost a year of surviving (and thriving in) possibly the most toxic department in the company. If you’re in Sales yourself (or if your work has anything to do with selling), I hope this roundup can be of help to you in one way or another.
- Build relationships, not profits; and the rest will follow. Responsible and effective selling is what gets one more business. Not many salespeople subscribe to this mindset, but I believe such is what separates the best from the rest. Successful salespersons don’t just sell a product, rather a solution and a service, and that involves a long-term relationship that may at times be frustrating but also incredibly rewarding. Lack of genuine care for one’s clients affects every aspect of the sales process. It resonates and builds a lasting impression. Such is true for the opposite, too. A show of concern and connection doesn’t only make work fulfilling, it also results in happy clients and more referrals—and we know that this is the stronghold of every excellent salesman.
- Have integrity. To me, this is an important trait ALL salespeople must obtain. Direction is defined, and actions are motivated by an inner conviction. It doesn’t only apply in dealing with clients, but also in the workplace and frankly, everywhere else. It’s not a skill people acquire, rather a quality of one’s character. I understand the temptation of capitalizing on a customer’s naivety, or unjustly taking credit from other salespeople, but that is not the way to go. Call it karma, call it what you want—it will come back around one way or another.
- Constant self-evaluation is crucial, even mandatory. Many fail to engage in this, perhaps because it is to them unnecessary or a waste of time. They commonly busy themselves with pressing matters without allotting time for the not-so-urgent but important tasks such as reflection. Such allows one to step out of the pressures of work and see the bigger picture, providing him an avenue to correct and rebuild. In my case, it allows me to figure out what works and what doesn’t, as well as come up with hundreds of other ways to do something. What I love about my job is that there’s always room for improvement because I outperform my past. I echo what the good men say, that my greatest enemy is no one but myself.
- Be effective with your time. I hear and see about a lot of salespeople who burn themselves out day and night without achieving results. Perhaps it is because there’s a certain degree of ignorance in the way they manage their hours in the workplace. They usually don’t plan out their day. There’s a proper time to call or to send emails, but they fail to realize this. They spend a lot of time slacking off (coffee break chit-chat, morning gossip) and doing unimportant administrative tasks. Most importantly, their lack of discipline takes time away from fulfilling activities, such as exercise, quality time with friends and family, artistic and intellectual endeavors, and spiritual formation. These things create a huge impact on their outlook in life and restores motivation. They’re happy, therefore they work happy, too.
- The key is integration and good mix of everything. Top salespeople display a balance of all important qualities needed to close a deal. It’s the basic stuff that one needs to perfect, really, and people tend to overlook that. Mastery in one but mediocre performance in another just won’t cut it. To tell you the truth, I think there’s no magic trick in selling. There may be innovative strategies, but if there is no skillfulness over the basics, the integrated whole, there will be no exceptional performance.
- Brighten your outlook on failure. Like a child, humbly allow yourself to make mistakes. It is then when you can backtrack, think of a better way to do something, then move forward. If you have an idea, test it out and if it doesn’t work, find another way. With this process, slowly but surely chisel your strategies to come up with surefire way to win over customers. It’s much better than having a sore attitude every time something backfires. Embrace failure; don’t just tolerate it. I’m sure you’ve heard it from the most successful people in the world: failure is a stepping stone to success.
- Practice creativity and resourcefulness. Don’t find leads / approach the client / get that wanted ‘yes’ the way everybody else (and by everybody I mean the ineffective sales people) does. Chances are, you’ll end up achieving no more than they. Practice innovative & strategic thinking and find ways to do things differently—and this will set you far above the rest. How? Start by Googling it up!
- Learning must never stop. Learn from the star performers; learn from those who have been there and done that. Patronize their books, watch what they have to say, read their articles. Attend a course; go to an event; share your ideas and let others do the same. Don’t forget to learn from your clients, too. Study what makes them tick. Don’t lag behind and keep yourself up to date. Be adaptable and teachable, no matter how high up on the ladder you are. Adapt all the knowledge you acquire wisely and ruthlessly.
- Strive for a higher cause. The presence of such is a reminder that there is a deeper reason for your work. It resides deep within your conscience and fuels your behavior and attitude in the workplace (outside of it, too). It is the ‘why’ you go back to in the face of trials and important decisions. It transcends the blinding need for profit, achievement, or success. To me, there must always be a nobler motive that fuels one’s passion to be excellent. It is the awareness that one’s actions greatly affect others and that he must see that it is used for the good. It is that which allows one to see work as a blessing and with it, do much more than what is expected and influencing others to do the same.
*This was a LinkedIn article published in March 2016.